Explore the possibilities in healthcare robotics

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The manufacturer of Pepper robot, Softbank Robotics organises a webinar on October 15th, 11 am – 12 pm (CEST). This will be about humanoid robots used in healthcare for geriatric patients. Our team is going to participate in this event, and we also invite our partners and friends to join. In this blog, we show you the exciting world of healthcare robotics. This branch of robotics builds surgical, disinfectant, exoskeleton or social robots.

Explore the possibilities in healthcare robotics!

Registration

Participation in this webinar is free, but you have to register first. You can do it by clicking on the link below:

After this administrative task, I would like to share some interesting details about healthcare robotics with you. I would start with the history of healthcare robots, tell you some captivating facts about the emerging market of healthcare robotics. Then, I show you some unbelievable robots helping doctors and patients.

Healthcare robots in the past

As I mentioned before, using robots for medical purposes is not a brand new invention. We have to go back to 1985 to meet the first similar project when experts transformed an industrial robotic arm to perform brain surgery. Another development, the Robodoc surgical robot system began in 1986 and was intended to create a more precise device for joint replacement procedure. It became the first robot in the United States that performed procedures in 1992.

Acrobot was built for similar purposes. The system performed partial knee replacement surgeries. In 2006, a study from Imperial College, London showed that these robot-assisted surgeries were more accurate than conventional surgery.

Da Vinci surgical robots appeared in the early 2000s. It had four arms equipped with surgical tools and cameras. It could do minimally invasive procedures. For more about Da Vinci system, check this enthralling video:

Robotics in recent years went through a big development. Exciting new robots appeared, however, most of them still controlled remotely. Experts say that the magic will come from the AI.

Healthcare robotics: emerging market

Using medical robots in and out of hospitals has a lot of advantages. They can disinfection rooms automatically, cheer up patients, perform surgeries, transport medicines or help doctors providing medical care remotely. Of course, they can do other tasks as well.

In 2018, medical robot sales grew 49% from 2017. That meant 4360 units and roughly 22100 units are estimated to be sold between 2019 and 2021 (according to robotics.org). The size of the market was $ 6.46 billion in 2018 (Markets and Markets). Another source, BIS International predicted the global robotics market to reach $ 11,4 billion by 2023. Markets and Markets projected medical robots market to reach USD 22.10 billion by 2027.

The main drivers of this growth are robot-assisted training in rehabilitation therapy, technological advancements, increase in funding for research and the issuance of IPOs by healthcare robot companies. Tech experts and market researchers believe that this is still the beginning of the healthcare robotics market. More advanced solutions will come in the near future.

Now, let’s see the most common types of robots deployed in healthcare!

Most common types of healthcare robots

Robots perform surgeries

As you can see, this market is an emerging one, and yet there are numerous robots applied in hospitals. If we are talking about surgical robots, we have to mention Da Vinci robots in the first place. You can read about it in the first part of this blog because it was invented 15 years ago! These systems are not automated, they are controlled fully by the doctors.

Google and Ethicon started a strategic partnership in 2015 to develop surgical robot platform. Ethicon is a member of Johnson & Johnson family producing various medical devices.

Blood-drawing robots

Believe it or not but one-day blood-draws might be done by robots, without the need of human workforce. It would be safer for both patients and healthcare providers. This method is not so evident, nurses can miss the location of blood vessels easily. That’s why researchers at Rutgers University started to build a “venipuncture robot”. This machine can localize punctually the blood vessels using a combination of near-infrared spectroscopy and ultrasound imaging technology. It even creates a 3D image of the vessels before sticking the patients with a needle.

Disinfection robots

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, disinfecting solutions became more important. To protect human staff, hospitals started to use robots that can do this task fully automated. Danish company UVD Robots produces robots that can disinfect hospital rooms using powerful short-wavelength UVC light. They eradicate DNA or RNA of any microorganisms that are exposed to them.

Exoskeleton

It can be a little futuristic, but exoskeleton robots can help paralyzed people to move again. There are plenty of successful systems were developed so far. An American company, Eksobionics builds exoskeleton robots for rehabilitation programs and work. In rehabilitation, these inventions can help the patients to regain mobility. For blue-collar workers it is also very helpful, the system protects them from injuries.

Social robots in healthcare

Artificial intelligence developed a lot in recent years. Machine learning, artificial neural systems, machine vision are very important technologies for social robots. These types of robots don’t perform surgeries or transport medicine. Their core competence is communication, even in healthcare. They cheer up patients, not just the children. They are very popular among senior citizens as well. Furthermore, they can also warn the patients to take their medicine, they can be used as telehealth solutions.

Let me show you a great example of the value of Pepper robot! During the pandemic, patients on intensive ward care in Höpital Pitié Salpétriére in Paris were not allowed to visit. Pepper lent a (robotic) hand them. It stood beside their beds so they can communicate with their family. They used Pepper’s tablet to deliver video conferences.

More on healthcare robotics in Softbank’s webinar

Are you interested in how to use a humanoid robot in healthcare? Then, Softbank Robotics’ webinar is for you! Our partner manufactures Pepper (and some other robots as well). They have numerous partners worldwide, who develop software for these machines. In this webinar “The next level of patient-centred service: How can humanoid robots improve the level of healthcare service for geriatric patients?” you get answers for questions like:

  • How do service robots like Pepper help in this kind of environment?
  • Can a robot monitor dementia patients’ vital signs better than humans do?
  • What advantages features like telepresence bring to geriatric centres, where human contact is severely restricted?
  • How could service robots like Pepper help geriatric patients with their overall mood and motivate them?

Join Softbank’s webinar for free using the “Register now” button below! The event will be on October 15th.


Sources and more articles on this topic:
Medical Futurist; Premier Health on YouTube; ZDNet.com; Science Direct; ITransition; Robots.ieee.org; Robotics.org; Markets and Markets; Smithsonian Insider

N. G. Hockstein; C. G. Gourin; R. A. Faust and T. J. Terris: A history of robots: from science fiction to surgical robots
Robotics Business Review: 6 ways AI and robotics are improving healthcare
Robotics Business Review: New Jersey Hospital invests in germ eliminating UVC disinfection robot